Published: 11:11, 24 February 2021
| Updated: 11:21, 24 February 2021
There are calls for dog walkers to stay away from Whitstable’s largest nature reserve as parts of the beauty spot resemble a mud bath.
Duncan Down, now known as Gorrell Valley Nature Reserve, is feeling the impact of a “perfect storm” of rain, snow and increased footfall.
As a result, Cllr Ashley Clark, a leading figure in managing the open space, is pleading with walkers to utilise the town’s coastline instead of the swamp-like village green.
“If people have got a choice as to where they can go, we’d prefer it if they went down the beach for a few weeks,” he said.
“They won’t need their Wellingtons down there.
“We appreciate Duncan Down is a community asset, but you don’t want to ruin your own asset by abusing it.
“We expect kids to do outdoor and adventurous things - the slope’s been used for sledging for decades, and it’s great we’ve got somewhere people can do that, but now people have had their fun.
“We say ‘the nature reserve has provided you with some fun, but return that by now staying off it for a bit and come back in the spring.
“It’s about providing kindness to the ground.”
“It’s not a case of saying ‘don’t come and never come back’, we just want people to give it a period of leaving it alone.”
Cllr Clark says the combination of a wet autumn and winter, compounded by heavy footfall and snow, has caused the reserve to become a mud bath.
“This is the worst it’s ever been - and that’s because kids aren’t at school.
“The grass has been hammered every single day.
“Give it two or three weeks to recover.
“To go trampling through will make its recovery take longer.
“We don’t want to kill anyone’s fun. We don’t to put any signs up, just hopefully people will realise it’s better in the long run to let nature recover."